by R. D. Finch
With the possible exception of Alfred Hitchcock, no film director made as many great movies as Ingmar Bergman. And no director in movie history has more of a reputation for seriousness than Ingmar Bergman. Marital strife, parent-child conflict, childhood trauma, identity confusion, spiritual crisis, madness, war, above all death—think of a somber, disturbing, or depressing subject and chances are Bergman made a movie about it. Yet among all those serious films he is so well known for, in 1955 he made one of the most delightful romantic comedies ever filmed, Smiles of a Summer Night.
In Sweden, the time around the summer solstice, when it stays light nearly all night long as it does in all such northern latitudes, is a special time of year. This is a time for the celebration of fertility and the time when magic is believed to have its greatest power over humans, just as in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the film, which takes place sometime early in the twentieth century, we are introduced to four men and four women who come together at a rustic weekend house party in midsummer, a traditional time for losing one’s inhibitions and indulging in emotionally risky behavior. Fredrik Egerman is a self-centered middle-aged lawyer who for two years has been married to Anne, a naive 19-year old. The marriage has never been consummated because of Anne’s fear of sex, and Fredrik, who has resolved to wait until she is ready for sexual relations, is growing restive. When he learns that his former mistress, the actress Desirée Armfeldt, is in town appearing in a play, he can’t resist going to see her. Accidentally learning of her husband’s renewed interest in Desirée, Anne understandable becomes deeply upset. (more…)
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by R. D. Finch
What the hell do you write about a movie directed by Luis Buñuel? His films don’t deal directly with social, political, or ethical issues, so a discussion of theme isn’t really relevant. Even on the rare occasions he worked with major stars like Simone Signoret or Catherine Deneuve, he used actors essentially as extensions of his imagination, so a discussion of personalities and performances doesn’t hold much promise either. Also out is the topic of style. Though admired by bold film stylists like Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell, Buñuel was himself one of the most straightforward of directors, his style virtually a definition of the expression “invisible technique.” Yet he was in a way the ultimate auteur director, forging a creative identity not through subject or style, but by vividly showing us his own wholly idiosyncratic view of the world, his personal alternate reality, in one film after another. While other directors have also attempted this, I can’t think of one who has used this approach so prolifically, so adroitly, or so intelligibly as Buñuel.
Like a number of Buñuel’s later films, his 1972 comic masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is organized not around a traditional rising and falling arc of action but, like a piece of music, around a theme and a set of variations. Here the theme is six people—three men and three women—trying to sit down for a meal and repeatedly getting interrupted before they can get started. The variations consist of their trying time after time to dine, only to be thwarted again. No matter what the circumstances, they just can’t seem to finish a meal. It’s perpetually delayed gratification, the gastronomic equivalent of involuntary coitus interruptus. (more…)
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Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2012|
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Lucille Juliano and sister Elaine Lampmann flank Rutgers University freshman Eric Lampmann, a saxophonist and music major in front of Nicholas Music Center on Douglas campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey
by Sam Juliano
Gifted Rutgers University music major and saxophonist, freshman Eric Lampmann performed in concert at the Nicholas Music Center of the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center at the Douglas College campus on Thursday evening. The young Lampmann, 18, played with the prestigious Rutgers Symphony Band, led by conductor Darryl J. Bott during the second half of a program in which the ensemble was paired with the Ridgewood Concert Band. Eric is the third of three children -all boys- born to James Lampmann and Elaine Lampmann of Butler. His older brothers James Jr. and Craig, ages 21 and 19, respectively, are presently working towards degrees in communication and civil engineering at Hofstra and the University of Maryland. (As a remarkable side note James was seen on national television last week as he helped to set up the sound and video for the Obama-Romney presidential debate at the David Mack Arena on the Hofstra campus in Hempstead, Long Island) The Rutgers’ Symphony Band’s membership is drawn primarily from the finest undergraduate instrumental music majors at the Mason Gross School of the Arts. Included in the program was a stirring performance of Ronald LoPresti’s “Elegy for a Young American” which was dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the year before the work’s initial appearance. The solemn composition, largely fueled by the woodwinds, exudes a melancholic underpinning, and unfolds in the form of an adagio. The longest piece in the line-up was Symphony No. 3 “JFK” written by Andrew Boysten Jr., which is likened to an interdisciplinary study in how music formulates connections to historical events in a literal and programmatic fashion. The movement is meant to simulate the continuity of a memorial service, and contains four moving memories from JFK’s life: the war hero events on ‘P.T. 109.’ the famed inaugural speech that began with “Ask not what your country…”, the assassination on November 22, 1963, and the wrenching image of young John-John saluting his father’s progression as it moves by, an image that broke the hearts of a nation and the world. Eric Lampmann was one of the seven sax players, who gave this concert a distinct woodwind flavor and soaring lyricism. Lucille’s sister Elaine and her husand James live in a specious home in a rural cul-de-sac in Butler, New Jersey, which has been the location of Thanksgiving dinners for all of us for every one of the past 17 years. As the hosts of well-attended Christmas parties and owners of a dream home, the Lampmanns are about the classiest of acts. Watching Eric perform was quite the exhilarating experience. (more…)
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